Maybe beating up on Big West Conference schools isn’t so bad after all.
After winning 10 consecutive Big West Conference games, the UCSB women’s basketball team lost to Pac-10 opponent USC 76-61 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on Thursday night.
Senior forward Ebony Hoffman and freshman point guard Jamie Hagiya each scored 15 points to lead the Trojans to their first victory in four games.
USC (15-11 overall, 11-6 in the Pac-10) ruined a special night for junior forward Kristen Mann, who scored her 1,000th career point for UCSB midway through the second half. The Santa Ana native is the 18th player in UCSB history to score at least 1,000 points in her career. Mann finished with 19 points, 1,005 for her career, as the Trojans snapped the Gauchos’ 10-game winning streak.
The Trojans led Santa Barbara from the start, jumping out to a 10-4 lead on Senior Night at USC. Poor defense and hot shooting from Hoffman and Hagiya spelled doom for UCSB as the Gauchos quickly fell behind 24-8 six minutes into the contest. Mann and Taylor were the only offensive threats for Santa Barbara during the first half as USC continued to smother the Gauchos’ scorers.
The Trojans jumped out to a 45-26 halftime lead as Hoffman poured in seven first-half points and six rebounds. Taylor led the way for UCSB in the first half with 11 points on five of seven shooting from the field. Mann added nine points, and Fisher had four in the first half.
Santa Barbara (19-6 overall, 13-1 in the Big West) made the game interesting in the second half, threatening to pull within single digits with seven minutes to go, but the Trojans clamped down on defense to hand the Gauchos their first loss in over a month.
Santa Barbara used a full-court press with 10 minutes to go in the contest, pulling to within 11 points at 65-54 with five minutes to go. But USC outscored the Gauchos 10-5 during the final five minutes.
Hagiya connected on five of her six three-point attempts to account for all of her 15 points. USC finished shooting 47.7 percent from the field.
Taylor scored a game-high 23 points and had three blocks. Both Mann and Taylor single-handedly outscored the rest of the UCSB team. Santa Barbara finished shooting 44.2 percent from the field.
Santa Barbara looks to get back into form on the road on Saturday at 7 p.m. against UC Riverside. The Highlanders lost 83-76 at Cal Poly last night and have lost two straight since their 76-66 win over Utah State on Feb. 19.
Mann led the Gauchos with 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds as Santa Barbara cruised to an 88-67 over Riverside at home on Jan. 29. The Highlanders haven’t defeated the Gauchos since joining the Big West last season. Riverside is battling five other teams for the final four spots in the Big West Tournament, and a win against UCSB would help them get into the postseason.